ESPN: ‘Oregon Football Has Officially Arrived’

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From Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota winning the Heisman Trophy to playing in the College Football Playoff for a chance at a national championship, Oregon football has officially gained status among the college football elite.

According to ESPN’s Ivan Maisel, the years of steady program building starting with head coaches Rich Brooks and Mike Bellotti are paying big dividends, positioning the Ducks with an opportunity to realize their dream of top tier status with a victory in the Rose Bowl against Florida State and to define a legacy roughly 20 years in the making.


The old guard football elite aren’t friendly to newcomers. But when a determined Brooks got Oregon to a Rose Bowl in 1995, squaring off against Joe Paterno’s infamous Penn State team, win or lose, it was the beginning of a new era for the Ducks.

Oregon achieved gridiron success without the resources other powerhouse programs were afforded. For many years, the Ducks often lost recruiting battles to big name schools. But the coaches squeezed blood from a stone, working that much harder to develop the athletes they had and to transform them into top performers.

Oregon head coach Rich Brooks talks with Joe Paterno in the Rose Bowl

John Giustina

Oregon head coach Rich Brooks talks with Joe Paterno in the Rose Bowl

“Back in those years, there wasn’t anything,” defensive cordinator Don Pellum told Maisel. “To dream of sitting there and thinking, ‘We’re going to have all this and be this caliber program’ when you didn’t have anything, that’s really dreaming.”

Mike Bellotti helped Oregon reach the top five for the first time in school history

John Giustina

Mike Bellotti helped Oregon reach the top five for the first time in school history

The program has come a long way. Could anyone have imagined the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, Oregon’s luxurious football headquarters that serves as the team’s Football Operations Center? Probably not.

But Oregon’s success is more than glass buildings, infinity pools, and flashy uniforms. This small-town football program was built with years of sweat equity.

Maisel adds, ”The power of a program transcends a coach. It transcends a player or a class of recruits. Therein lies the first illustration that Oregon football has arrived.”

Despite numerous coaching changes and roster overhauls, the program has continued to rise in the rankings, winning four Pac-12 Championships in the last six years, driven by the “Win the Day” philosophy that players and fans alike have come to embrace.

The Ducks have achieved unprecedented success thanks to the tireless work of the athletic department, coaching staff, and university administration, and the tremendous support of fans and alumni, chief amongst them Phil and Penny Knight.

Many Ducks supporters have remained loyal through the lows and the near misses. Oregon has remained true to its core values of integrity, hard work and respect, and can be proud, both of the fact they are nearly in that elite clubhouse, and how they got there.

 

 Top photo by John Giustina

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Jordan Ingram

Jordan Ingram

My name is Jordan Ingram and I am currently a student at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism. I am a proud Oregonian with an insatiable thirst for Oregon athletics. I am in hot pursuit of my dream career as beat writer for anything that goes “Quack.” Follow me on Twitter : @jpingram3

  • Travis Crum

    man, i grew up i lane county and was in middle school in the ‘toilet bowl’ era— oregon football was just something you didn’t talk about, like the elephant in the room or the great-uncle who was a cross-dresser. not any more. i just hope these kids get the rewards that they have worked for–they already have recognition, a degree of fame and adulation, but what they really want is VICTORY and VINDICATION….this is it, this is the story…

    • Jordan Ingram

      Travis: I grew up watching Bill Musgrave play at Autzen and it was a totally different time back then. When the Ducks won, people went nuts, tearing down goal posts and carrying them down MLK Blvd. It was a celebration! But most of the time it was watching the Ducks struggle to find themselves and play confident football, losing most of their games. They are winning now because they believe in themselves and the program, which has been so refreshing and exciting!